This recipe has been on my mind for a long time. Back in March I had the opportunity to try Massimo Bruno’s Italian Supper Club and there were a lot of dishes that stood out but one technique that I knew I wanted to replicate at home. The mozzarella and tomatoes that he served together were powerfully supported by the essence of basil but I couldn’t find any trace of the third, green musketeer on the plate.
Possibly inspired by one too many glasses of wine, I assumed that some combination of particularly potent basil and a long exposure time had caused the cheese and tomatoes to soak up the basil’s flavour. Obviously, it was basil oil behind the magic of delivering the herbal aroma and flavour while eliminating the off-putting texture.
When I set out to find a recipe for basil oil I was struck by two things. First, the lengths some recipe writers go to in order to create a green-coloured oil. Presentation matters and a little green is welcome on my plate but some recipes like this one from epicurious add as much spinach as basil (and then half as much parsley). The idea is that I want the flavour of basil and want to use up the huge crop I have not that I want to taste spinach or go shopping for it. If you’ve got a bunch of spinach lying around throw it in, I guess, but I kept looking for a simpler recipe.
I was also taken aback by the short window of opportunity to use the product of most recipes before it spoils. Unless you’re running an Italian restaurant there is no way you’re going through even a half cup of basil oil in three days so this recipe from Bon Appétit is out.
Continuing down the list of Google-found recipes this one from BasilBasics.com seemed like what I wanted. Just basil and olive cooked for five minutes and then stored in a sterilised jar for up to a month. I’ll report later on whether it lasts a month but results are positive so far. Other than olive oil and basil the cooking adds a hint of tea to the aroma and actually the colour reminds me of weak green tea. I’ll definitely use this recipe over the next few weeks to extract the best qualities of basil while leaving behind the sensation of eating grass.